Why Cross-Language Name Matching is critical for KYC/KYB

Financial institutions in general and banks in particular have difficult times verifying their customers’ names as they appear in different languages and alphabets in numerous documents screened in the process of KYC. This is especially challenging for banks that serve customers globally.

The customer’s name may appear in various documents in different languages. For example, local driver’s license may be in Arabic or Cyrillic, while banking documents are filled out in English. In a different scenario, a customer in an Arabic speaking country provides documentation in Arabic, which will later need to be matched against Latin-script sanction lists.

In most cases, simple transliteration into Latin characters (also called “romanization”) will not be sufficient, since almost every name may be transliterated in many different ways. Different languages use different sounds, some lack certain sounds or use sounds that may be transliterated differently based on how this name is pronounced by people speaking different languages.

Example 1

Name in Arabic

موسى الجزري

This name may be transliterated in a number of different ways:

  • Musa Al-Jazari
  • Moossa El-Jazari
  • Mussa Eljazaree
  • Moosa Aljassaree… 

By a Russian speaker it will be transliterated into Latin characters differently, based on the peculiarities of Russian pronunciation. It may become:

  • Musaa Al’dgazare or

  • Mussa Eljazeri

Example 2

Russian and some other languages don’t have English sound “h” (as in Hilton). Instead, they would use CH, X, KH or even G (as in Go). So that after a series of transliterations Hilton may easily become Khilton, Gilton, or Xilton (because of the way the letter representing sound “KH” is written in Russian).

Example 3

In Chinese, for example, there are many characters with the same or similar pronunciation. Thus, on the one hance, a non-Chinese name may be written in many different ways in Chinese, as well as a Chinese name may be written in multiple ways using Latin script. Such common name is Michael, for example, may be spelled in Chinese in a number of different ways:

迈克尔 (Mài kè ěr)

米凯尔 (Mǐ kǎi ěr)

麦克尔 (Mài kè ěr)

Neither one of which would match Michael.

Example 4

Another example is the Korean name 김민수

This name may appear in different documents in a variety of spellings, including:

Kim Min-su
Gim Min-su
Gim Minsoo, and so on.

To ensure accurate KYC onboarding, proper cross-language screening technology is paramount. One that would screen names in their original scripts and recognize all possible corresponding translations and transliterations in other languages. Such is Fincom’s Sanctions Screening system based on advanced Phonetic-Linguistic Engine with its Phonetic Fingerprint technology at the core.

The system proved itself in dozens of US banks, accurately screening and matching names in 44 different languages in a variety of alphabets.

For more info – https://fincom.co/solutions/aml/aml-onboarding-ongoing/

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